Monday, January 26, 2009

The ARTS Economy

I told myself I couldn’t make another post here until everything was ready for my presentation. Well, it finally is; at least the material goods part.

And now I can write about something that’s been bugging me for a few days. (Sometimes my tongue is in my cheek here, and sometimes not.)

The Creative Economy. I first came across this phrase when I stumbled onto the Creative Communities website months ago. It was intriguing then, and since my eye-opening trips to Montpelier and White River where I saw the obvious spoor of creative communities, and since I heard about their communities from Mariella, Charlie, and Phil, I’m even more interested in this.

Which leads me to the chapter in the CFV stuff where it is said that there is much confusion over WHO should be included when counting the contributors to a “creative economy.” I read that section several times. And got more irritated each time. (Not with CFV; it's only the messenger in this case.) Apparently this umbrella term might include chip designers, and the like.

Now just hold on here! Do they want to include the chip designer because his or her income will shield the world from the paltry incomes of most artists? Chip design, I think, falls under industrial design. How many folks are holed up in their drafty spare rooms designing chips, getting turned on by copper and solder?(Apologies to makers of stained glass.) So, then I thought, maybe the argument over who should be included is not really the problem. Maybe it’s the damn name. What’s wrong with The ARTS ECONOMY?

Things suddenly get a lot clearer for me and easier to understand. We finalists are artists, the VAC is in the business of funding and supporting the arts, gallery owners show art, etc. But then someone says, what about the writers? Writing is an art, without a doubt, as is composing, playing, directing, etc. Ain't no stinkin' chip designer within a million miles.


So what would be the underlying definition of such a beast. How about this: the arts economy comprises all who produce or work with in some manner, a product which produces value for one individual, and whose income drops like a stone in a recessive economy.

Susan paints a picture, a gallery sells it, I buy it. Then what? It hangs on my wall for my sole pleasure. It doesn’t make me richer, or give me a job, or increase the value of my house, my car, my land. This picture only contributes to MY quality of life. All of us in a theatre audience are just separate little MEs soaking up their own kind of pleasure, individually, in a group. We are all bettering our quality of life by these means. But for each it is an individual experience.

And, when people don’t have jobs, they can’t afford to buy art, so the artist’s income goes down. Going to a performance, buying art, attending a workshop, are not necessary for practical survival. You see where I’m going here? The artist or performer in the end makes things of absolutely no redeeming economic value. Susan doesn’t make a million paintings and export them to Brazil in exchange for coffee. I mean, no one actually needs anything "arty" to survive. Hey, art is civilizing. This is America! We don't need no wimp-barf.

On a lighter note: It should then be fairly easy to find out who should be included in the ARTS ECONOMY. Simply ask people what they would relinquish when their income suffers a setback: piano tunings, buying works of art, music buying, concerts, book buying, attending movies, plays, buying movies, renting movies, buying musical instruments, taking art lessons, music lessons . . . and there you have it.

The folks connected with all these no-longer-can-afford things are participants in the Arts Economy.

1 comment:

  1. Clair,
    That's great coverage in the St. Albans messenger! Congratulations.
    Good luck later this week with your presentation.